Sherwood Island State Park a Nice Change of Scenery
Greenwich’s beaches have so much to offer — there’s no doubt about it. Even so, new scenery can always be a pleasant change in pace, especially this summer as many travel destinations aren’t a viable option. If you’re looking for a nearby, low-cost day trip, pay a visit to Sherwood Island State Park in Westport!
The park is just under 20 miles from central Greenwich and can be reached in under 30 minutes via I-95. Simply head north until Exit 18; the exit will put you directly on the Sherwood Island Connector, bringing you directly into the center of the park. Park entry is free to Connecticut residents. Once in the park grounds, parking lots are easily accessible and considerably large — but be sure to plan ahead, as the park closes once the parking lot reaches full capacity. To ensure a spot, especially on weekends, it’s advised visitors arrive earlier in the morning rather than midday. If you do wish to arrive later in the day, visit the CT State Parks Twitter page, where they post once a park is at its capacity daily.
Sherwood Island State Park in Westport is an excellent beach to visit this summer, no matter what kind of beach-goer you may be. There is ample access to sand and sun for sunbathers, so if you’re looking for your classic beach day, the park won’t fall short! Bring along a towel and some sunscreen to enjoy some time in the water and on the shore. If you’re in search of a park, Sherwood Island also has grassy, shady areas under the park’s picnic grove. Visitors can set up a picnic blanket and bring along some food to enjoy out of the sun’s heat all while enjoying views of the Sound. In addition, a designated fishing area at the park’s point is a popular spot for fishers to set up and fish for the day.
Beyond your typical beach activities, Sherwood Island is also home to a number of other attractions. For instance, the Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail now includes “Viewpoints” — plaques with reproductions of paintings and information about their artists as well as an analysis of the historic importance of each artwork and the landscape they depict. At this park, the Viewpoints plaque recognizes artist Edward Potthast and one of his many impressionist-era paintings done along the New England coast. For more information on the Connecticut Art Trail and all its locations, visit ctarttrail.org.
During a “normal” summer (i.e. sans pandemic), the Nature Center at Sherwood Island State Park offers nature walks, bird watching, lectures, and nature-related activities for children. Unfortunately, safety measures require the nature center to remain closed this season, but this doesn’t mean nature at Sherwood Island can’t be enjoyed this year. To learn more about the plants, animals, and the bodies of water at the park, visitors can check out two Facebook pages: @SherwoodIslandFriends and @SherwoodIslandNC. While at the park, visitors can also reference the park’s “Birds of Sherwood Island State Park” checklist to experience the wildlife firsthand. The list details the 284+ bird species that typically spend time at the park year round. It is organized by bird family, indicating the likelihood of seeing each species as well as what season(s) they are expected to be seen in. The full list is available online at friendsofsherwoodisland.org.
Nature-lovers should also take a stroll down the Sherwood Island Nature Trail to visit the park’s salt marsh. The marsh is home to many different plants and animals that live in the unique environment the marsh fosters. As tides change, the marsh floods and drains, creating an ecosystem known as the “intertidal zone” — a very harsh environment because of the drastic changes throughout the day. The wetland acts as a sort of “filter” for the pollutants that would otherwise flow straight to the sound, a nursery for young fish and other marine life, and a popular “rest stop” for birds and small mammals in the area. The trail goes around the marsh, giving visitors a chance to see and hear the wildlife that calls the salt marsh home.
Also worth visiting while at the park is Connecticut’s 9/11 Living Memorial, which can be found at the point of the shoreline. Since 2002, the memorial commemorates the thousands of lives lost in Manhattan on 9/11 with rows of tiles engraved with names of those who lost their lives. According to the park’s website, Sherwood Island was selected as the location for Connecticut’s memorial as the New York City skyline is visible from the point on a clear day, and the smoke from the World Trade Center was seen from the park in 2001.
Sherwood Island State Park is further proof that you don’t have to travel far or spend much to see new places. It makes for the perfect day trip or even just a quick morning visit with so much to offer. To simply call Sherwood Island a beach doesn’t do justice to all its features, from walking trails to picnic areas and more that make it so worth visiting next time you’re itching to get out of town!